Let’s start with what the polls are actually showing. The Conservatives level of support has fallen to around 39%. Of the ten polls this month, 7 have put them below forty, when every single poll in October had them at 40 or above, so it’s pretty clear they have dropped slightly (though to put this in context, they were polls showing them below 40 in September and almost all of of June). There also appears to have been an increase for Labour, more often than not they are now polling in the high twenties. Despite a couple of big increases in individual polls this month though, their average in November’s polls (27%) is actually fractionally down on October (27.6%). Labour are clearly doing better in the polls than they were earlier in the year, but it’s a more longstanding advance and we can trace it back to around about conference season.

So, what’s causing it? The harsh reality is that voting intention polls only tell us how people say they’d vote. They don’t tell us why, or why they might have changed their mind, so the rest of this post is by necessity conjecture.

I should start by knocking down some things that it almost certainly isn’t – whenever there is a move in the polls I tend to see comments saying it is the result of the story in the Mirror that morning about David Cameron beating his butler, or the MP for Backwoods West having claimed a plunger on expenses or whatever. I think I spotted one comment saying it wasZac Goldsmith’s tax status (a story that came out half way through ComRes’s fieldwork and only really got traction once it had finished!). Trivialities do not change the polls, they may have a cumulative effect upon how the parties and politicians are perceived, but taken alone they are not significant factors.

Here’s what I see as the four main hypothesis for what is going on:

1) David Cameron’s “reverse” on Lisbon has resulted in the Conservatives losing support to UKIP. In theory this seems plausible. Europe is an issue with very low salience as Ipsos MORI’s monthly issues monitor repeatedly shows (this month’s poll found 3% of people think it is an important issue), however, that tiny minority do care about it a very great deal and it is possible that it would shift their vote. The theory looks very strong if we look at ComRes’s polling over the last two months – prior to David Cameron’s announcement at the beginning of November they were showing UKIP at around 3% of the vote. In their two polls since then they have shown UKIP at 5% and 6%. However, other polling doesn’t back it up – prior to Cameron’s announcement YouGov were consistently showing UKIP at 4%, and in their two polls since the announcement UKIP have stuck resolutely at 4%. The other companies have also failed to pick up any great jump in UKIP support. Taken alone ComRes’s polls are pretty convincing, looked at in the wider context, I’m not so sure.

2) Increased economic optimism and confidence has brought people back to Labour. On the face of it this would seem a good explanation, the problem comes with the timing. Economic optimism has been strongly recovering since the spring, but hasn’t made much further advance in the autumn – yet that’s when we saw the narrowing of the gap. Perhaps it is just a slow burner and it takes a while for increased economic confidence to translate into support for the government. If this is the reason, and economic recovery is translating into government support, it raises two very interesting possibilities. Firstly, the formal end of the recession is still to come, and as regular readers will know, I think think that announcement has the potential to have a real impact on public opinion. Secondly, if we cast our minds back to the end of last year, back then we saw the government’s popularity increasing on the back of economic confidence, and we saw both of them collapse when a series of high street stories went to the wall in January. Earlier this week there were reports that insolvency practitioners were predicting another wave of closures this January as stores who fail to do well enough over Christmas fold. I’m no economist, so I’ve no idea how much water that holds – but it suggests we have the potential for further increases… or knocks to consumer confidence in the months ahead.

3) Labour have been performing better. Sometimes it isn’t what is happening that affects the polls, it’s what hasn’t been happening. The Labour party had a pretty good conference, and since then there haven’t really been any great plots or infighting, speculation about Brown’s future has largely faded, to use their own phrase, they’ve been getting on with the job. Disunity and incompetence are hugely damaging to a party’s image and support, so I think it is quite possible that this is a factor in the narrowing lead.

4) Oh those horrible Tories, run away! Strangely explanations for the narrowing polls I see proposed on blogs and forums tend to more often focus on the Conservatives having done something to drive people away than Labour having done things to win back support. My view is that voting intention will still largely be governed by people’s attitudes and opinions of the Labour government, it is a vote against Labour, not in favour of the Conservatives – as the well worn cliche goes, it is governments that lose elections, not oppositions who win them. Most things the opposition parties say and do are probably noticed by very few people anyway. For that reason, and because the Conservatives haven’t done anything overwhelmingly disastrous that would impinge on the public consciousness, I think it’s far more likely that a better performance from Labour and increased economic optimism are behind their recovery, but as I wrote at the beginning of the piece, we can’t tell for sure.

225 Responses to “Why the polls are narrowing”

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  1. Good Analysis AW but i would’nt underestimate the ‘Terrible tories’ bit. I am an oddity in as much as I am a Tory supporter who works for the public sector. Many of my colleagues are really fearing a Tory goverment as they feel this will threaten their livelyhood. I think this may certainly be galvinising the Labour vote at the moment.
    Personally as i always tell my colleagues, I would rather see the knife coming then have it pushed in my back (as has happened with this goverment!)

  2. How do the trends compare with this stage in the 1966-70 Parliament? Wilson had to devalue in 68, economy was in a mess but began gradually to improve and I seem to remember that over the next two years Wilson began to claw his way back up the polls almost to parity by mid year ’70. Would love to see if there were //s if you have them.

  3. Have to agree, I also work in the public sector. Alot of my colleagues are /were seriously considering voting Conservative, quite a few did for the first time in June at the Euros.
    Every one of them was nervous about it and probably need regular ‘positive Conservative strokes’ but with the government appearing to improve, the economy appearing to improve and the Tory row over Europe, quite a few have switched back.
    Several said to me that seeing the Tories in a news arguing about Europe just reminded them of the bad days in the 90s.
    Disunity hurts especially if we have nervous people voting for us.

  4. Great analysis as ever Anthony. I think we are going to see a further narrowing of the polls as the good news about the economy (hopefully) filters through.

    I wouldn’t mind betting that the Tories go into the election with a 4-6 point lead in the opinion polls, but as ever the actual result sees them a little higher, perhaps in the 7-8 category which, with the swing differences will see them with a narrow majority.

    Hopefully their lead across the marginals will hold up.

  5. My guess it’s point 3 – a normalisation of the Labour position with an absence of awful news. Their prospective share of the vote is still only that achieved by Michael Foot.

    We’re in for a nail biting few months.

  6. @Don’t-tell-em-pike

    In your words, you are a “bit of an oddity” for being a Tory supporter in the public sector. Assuming you’re right then the “terrible tories” fear mainly affects people who wouldn’t have dreamed of voting Tory anyway.

    I wonder whether the narrowing of the polls is to do with actual changes of voting intention or merely a firming up of likelihood to vote by Labour voters? If the latter, then the gap is likely to narrow further in the weeks to come as Labour supporters are more willing to “come out”.

  7. Reference my previous post, I say “merely” but of course elections are determined by those who actually vote not those who thought about it.

  8. I think all of anthony’s points could have played a part, with some votes going straight back to Labour. If each one is worth 1% then this would account for the changes.

    I was really surprised how badly the tories handled the PR over Lisbon. They were the only party not to renege on their election pledge, but were wrong footed and made to look shifty by some very neat footwork by the Labour front bench. It was as if the tories missed an open goal and then labour/lib dems broke away and scored. Heads should role at tory hq.

    However, I think the key will be that as the election comes closer, DC will benefit from a presidential type campaign and the tories will receive at least 14% more votes than labour, possibly 42 against 28. DCs greatest hindrance is probably the local squires that still run some of the local parties. What is labour’s?

  9. Leslie,

    Valid point – especially if what is happening is a shift from don’t know / won’t vote to Lab with actual Con vote relatively stable. Indeed, although ComRes don’t apply as strict a filter by likelihood to vote, this is probably the main reason why the Mori figures have shifted so much.

    Conversely, while this may mean Labour supporters are more pre-disposed to vote than before, this may not necessarily translate into success in the marginals, since it is likely that many of those otherwise stay at homes will be in Lab heartlands where turn-out was lowest in 2005.

    Finally, come the election itself, Lab will still need to motivate and marshall those electors into the polling stations to cast their votes. This is where Labour’s abysmal financial position and battered activist base – depleted through years of attrition in local council elections – could prove decisive on the day – as was evident in the last two sets of council elections.

  10. Surely people who read the Mirror already support Labour and always will. The Mirror would say Cameron was a rapist if they fought it would win Labour the election. The Sun would probably do the same to Brown there both just gutter press who like propaganda.

  11. @PAUL HJ via Leslie
    Your final paragraph has taken the wind out of my sails and words out of my mouth. Labours private “problems” must lead to an issue of some importance when it comes to the final countdown. It may well lead to dodgy donation scandals.

  12. Personally, I just think that it is the simple fact that most of Cameron’s policy is so generic, and almost secretive, that it’s taken rather a long time for people to get to grips with what they are planning to do.

    I think a lot of people are getting the feeling that they are being a tad “hoodwinked” into the whole “austerity” thing. Reading forums I’m not sure the trust is actually there with the tories anymore. Not that it’s with Labour either, but I’d say that faith in the tories, has maybe dropped a bit.

    Why? I’d say the EU thing for one. It showed a lot of people that the whole pledge was probably little more than “posturing”.

    A lot of contradictions in policies. As in, spelling out the need for drastic cuts, and yet, offering tax breaks to friends, relatives, and cronies.

    Labour are secretly (without much media support I should add) doing a very nice job of creating doubts about the tories.

    The line of attack being, “an age of austerity, only for the poor”. Demonstrating that Cameron is probably going to do his best to protect his own kind,

    I also think Cameron has made his own errors. Backtracking on the EU vote, that disasterous PM questions, when he mistakenly attacked muslim schools.

    Personally, I think centre right politics is completely unelectable in this day and age. I don’t think you’ll ever see a classic “tory” government in politics again.

    The only way Cameron will ever get in is by convincing people that his party are “moderate”.

    The minute people get a sniff of classic toryism, and they run a mile.

    The polls may reflect people realizing that the party are a bit more tory than they thought.

    Really, don’t count the chickens before they hatch.

    The economy will be vastly stronger by this time next year. Plus, Labour really haven’t begun to attack Cameron on his fox hunting, inheritance tax plans.

    Come the election, they may well have Cameron painted as a fox hunting, champagne swigging “lord charlie” type, who merely plans to make cuts to keep up his friends and families lifestyles.

    I wouldn’t be that amazed if they were ahead by as little as 3-4 points come the election, and they actually lost the thing.

    The fox hunting issue is a big issue. I assure you. It’s a very popular law in the cities.

    Once it becomes apparent that Cameron plans to force though a repeal, it will hurt him. As it will show that he is simply trying to help “his own kind”.

    Out on my trips, most people I’ve spoke to have been in the:

    “If Cameron repeals the fox hunt ban, I’ll change my vote”.

    I think he may well have changed his mind on the policy come the election. And drop it

  13. PS.

    Note how SKY News, The Sun, The Mail haven’t even mentioned a poll in the last 3 months. If you don’t read broadsheets your oblivious to the recent changes,

    Andy Coulson hard at work ;)

  14. I think the UKIP affect may be distorting things somewhat (see Anthony’s point 1). There seems to be a discrepancy between the numbers they polled in the summer vs the poll figures mentioned.

    My personal feeling is that the UKIP vote will unwind in the election in the marginal seats.
    Where its obvious the Tories or labour are going to win the seat, they’ll vote UKIP to register their opinion and as a protest.
    Where its a close seat, though, its either vote Labour (who cheated on the referendum offer), libdem (who luv Europe oh-so-much) or Conservative, who while still liking Europe are certainly the lesser of the 3 evils.
    This will help the Conservatives in those important marginals more than collated voting figures suggest.

    Are there any figures for the second choice party of UKIP voters? I’d suspect it was the Conservatives, but dont have any evidence of that.

  15. Leslie Moss – regarding likelihood to vote, I wanted to look specifically at that but the evidence isn’t really there: YouGov don’t ask it; ComRes ask it first, but then don’t ask the normal voting intention to those who say less than five making comparisons very tricky; Populus and Angus Reid haven’t shown a decrease in the lead this month.

    That only leaves ICM and MORI – MORI showed an insignificant increase in Labour voters likelihood to vote, if anything ICM showed a drop in likelihood.

  16. @CHRIS
    You are coming from a very Labourite agenda and you know it.
    As far as I am concerned Cameron can critisise Muslim schools who have been in cahoots with extremists all he likes.
    If you think Carl and Tracy of Luton could give a damn about fox hunting you are mad. What exactly is YOUR take on”classic Toryism” ? The poor dieing in the streets and nurses repairing ambulances whilst coronary patients lie in supermarket trolleys,
    I expect. Forget the Bulingdon boy rubbish, it only works in the Guardian. As for any clever tactics from the Labour front bench,
    I read the Times, Guardian and Telegraph and its passed me by.

  17. @ Anthony Wells,

    Do the polls take into account the possibility of a ‘shy’ labour vote, you know the possibility that people are unwilling to say that they’re going to vote labour? Or is that cancelled out by past voting intentions.


  18. Several points for consideration:-
    1. The average percentage share for ‘others’ in November is the fourth highest for any month ever. (Beaten only by the period May to July this year). In England at any rate “others” are not likely to win many seats but could affect the result in some marginals if they take differentially from one party. In most cases however I suspect that the “others” vote is too small to make any real difference. The main effect of the “others” is to reduce the percentage share of all three main parties. In terms of votes that matter all three main parties are doing better than their percentage vote would suggest.

    2. There was a similar narrowing in the polls last year – In December 2008 the average Con lead was only 5%.

    3. As I said in a previous post opinion polls five/six months out from a General Election have a poor record of predicting the percentage result on polling day. All three main parties have grounds for optimism in my view.

  19. “that disasterous PM questions, when he mistakenly attacked muslim schools. ” – it was more the quo for the quid than a mistake. offering to ban any party that says it’s peacefully campaigning for a middle east-wide Islamic what’sitcalled superstate is not an obvious vote winner, but I think you’ll find it is a must for Cameron.

    Unless of course you believe he wants to do for muslims in the electorate’s concoiusness what Howard did for Gypsies and other “undesirables”

    It’s very troubling territory, for both sides.

  20. @ASTRO
    I think you are right or rightish, but how dangerous to flirt with UKIP when it could allow Labour to slip in. In that event the UKIP supporter would have 5 years of slavish Euro worship. Amoung other Labour “benefits”.

  21. Could it not simply be that as the election approaches, people are taking more care to consider which party they prefer? It’s one thing to say ‘Tory’ at a time when the government is heavily under attack and floundering.

    But Labour’s time in office has been far better for most people than the previous 13 years, and the recession was a world event, not labour’s fault. When it comes to voting I think this might count heavily.

  22. King Harold,

    Chris is our resident foaming at the mouth labourite – don’t rise to the bait.

    Having said which, I wonder if Chris has ever seen a fox ?

    The hunting ban has lead to greatly increased numbers of foxes, including in suburbia. These pests not only harm farmers’ livestock (they are a bigger threat to free range hens than they are to battery farms), they also prey on domestic anilmals.

    My daugther has lost three bunnies to our local foxes. I refuse to invest in any more fox-food.

    It is only ignorant townies and class warriors with chips on their shoulders who think fox hunting is about Toffs lording it over the peasants.

  23. An issue related to this is the relatively high figure for Others. What effect will this have on seat calculations when predicting the forthcoming GE?

    Can we any longer say that a 10% Tory lead will lead to a Hung Parliament?

    Isn’t there a case for revising seat calculations to take account of the vote of Others?

  24. Paul H-J,

    What has the hunting ban got to do with urban fox populations? I don’t recall many hunts charging through the back gardens of our towns and cities in pursuit of their blood lust.

    On a wider point, it is a matter of priorities: if the public see Cammo’s two priorites as being the reintroduction of blood sports for his mates and an inheritance tax cut, also for his mates, I would suggest that they will be rather less inclined to Vote Blue.

  25. “The hunting ban has lead to greatly increased numbers of foxes, including in suburbia.”

    No, it hasn’t.

    It is down to McDonald’s and take aways which are now the staple diet of the urban fox.

    My brother showed me it one night near Glasgow;

    He drove slowly in to a McDonald’s car park with his lights out about an hour after it had closed and then hit main beam.

    Before they all made it to cover I had counted seven foxes.

    Maybe Cameron could come up with a compromise policy… Allow fox hunting but only in Takeaway car parks….


  26. Polls narrowing ? That wasn’t part of the narrative – sensing a bit of panic from the Tory boys but come on folks, lets enjoy the forthcoming feast of politics/polls with lots of twists and turns along the way.

  27. i think it is the lab party that is doing better, the cons are not new any more, there are less “events” to comment on and its starting to come down to a straight policy fight

    lab as has been said are together, focused, stable and are getting on with the job; also brown has put his changes in place (when he moved people around a while back etc) and thats working well; he has a good style in terms of leadership and people are getting to know the chap – there was change from TB and charges takes time.

    a quick note on hunting; i have lived in the country since i was five (all my life really); foxes, badgers, moles, ducks, rabbits etc are all part of it.

    i am not rich, a townie or a class warrior but i do think fox hunting should be banned; you can kill foxes many different ways rather than pulling them apart whilst still living

    as a note (genuinely) see if you can protect the hutch more i.e. be careful of the type of latch, maybe get a board for night time to place over the chicken wire part, build like a “safety” cell (like a rabbit panic room) within the hutch so even if the fox gets in the rabbit has somewhere to safely hide – hope that helps and having lost a animals to foxes when i was a kid it is heart felt.

  28. Richard – I’m not sure it will have any. I’ve pondered the same question Mike Smithson asked. If a big chunk of the available vote is going off to small parties who (with a few exceptions aren’t going to win), is it the proportion of (con+lab) people voting Conservative or Labour that will be the better sign of the swing?

    Essentially it’s a question of whether “Steed swing” (purely the shift in the balance between Tory and Labour votes) is better than the normal “Butler Swing” (or even, a swing based on purely the Con+Lab+Ldem votes, like Steed swing with added Lib Dem goodness).

    I’m unsure, my guess is no, but it really needs looking at properly.

    Billy – ICM and Populus do. They both reallocate don’t knows on the basis of past vote and that tends to favour Labour. YouGov don’t have an interviewer bias since surveys are done online, so it shouldn’t arise to the same degree in the first place with them.

  29. Davey – where the local Tories still run things, they aren’t much known. Very few people like their council, but most people can’t name theirs either. Whilst the campaign is going to be presidential, I actually think it’ll be less so than now – local newspapers will have to pretend to do a bit of politics coverage, and that’s going to put all the old Maastricht rebels back in their local papers.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that the local press rarely swing anything, I’d think that’d have a lot of impact in marginals. With MPs so distrusted, if the polling narrows up to about 4-6 points, I’d expect to see plenty of Labour marginals going Tory but a fair few going the other way.

    Paul H-J – my experience has been that it’s the Labour base that really hates Cameron. The timeservers hate him because they liked being in power, and the true believers hate him because he’s the second coming of Blair.

    With our incredible shrinking membership we aren’t going to have the ground presence we did in 1997, but I think there still might be something of a last hurrah.

  30. I work in a professionally based, generally Tory/LibDem supporting, environment within the civil service. I think Anthony’s reason No.1 on the Cameron Lisbon retreat has had perhaps greater impact than the modest rise in UKIP support would indicate, judging by the rather annoyed chit-chat, although come polling day next year I doubt it will then have much impact on voting behaviour. However, in the short term it might make a few shift from Con to Don’t Know, rather than UKIP. Amongst all parties supporters here there is greater fear of what Osborne will do to us jobs wise than Labour continuing in power, but a general recognition that it will be very uncomfortable after polling day whoever wins!

  31. I would like to point out that despite being civil servants we are “politically free” grades here. Thus my liberty to post comments.

  32. @Anthony “Earlier this week there were reports that insolvency practitioners were predicting another wave of closures this January as stores who fail to do well enough over Christmas fold. I’m no economist, so I’ve no idea how much water that holds – but it suggests we have the potential for further increases… or knocks to consumer confidence in the months ahead.”

    The main reason why stores close at Christmas is because traditionally retail rents are paid on the 24th of March, June, September and December.

    If a store is in financial trouble, they’ll trade till Christmas to clear as much stock as they can, then default on the rent on Xmas Eve. It’s the logical date to go bust.

    It happens every year and not just in recessions.
    (e.g Courts, Uno etc)

  33. @LESLIE
    Although many of my colleagues were not going to vote Tory they were planning to vote for various others (Mainly Libdem or green etc). With the prospect of a tory government they are swaping back to labour.

    I would like to ask what people think the effect of falling party membership will have on Labours capacity to campaign during a GE? is there any eveidence to correlate membership with % of the vote?

  34. Sorry, meant evidence… not Eveidence which sounds like a celtic folk dance…

  35. Anthony, a good analysis but like some others I think point 4 may have been understated a little.
    In ’92 the cons were not popular but scored the most votes ever.
    Reason they were seen at least as Economically competent and Major was not Mrs T but most crucially too many voters did not fancy a Kinnock led labour Government.
    As the GE is approaching Cameron and his policies are being scrutinised more and his judgement on a few issues now has had a small cumulative effect.
    If Labour can avoid a winter of discontent and convince (KH and others will say kid) some voters that are after all reasonably competent Economic managers fear of Cameron (and Gideon in particular) will see this narrowing of the polls continue.
    I suggested before the conference season that a reasonable target for Labour is 33/34% which should deny a con victory; and, that they would need to be genuinely 30% in January to have a chance of 34%.
    At the time, I did not think likley but now there is a chance.
    NB) If LD’s only lose 5 seats or so to the Cons, the Tories will have to go deeper in to Con/Lab marginals to win.
    FWIW, I stilll reckon a Tory Win 30-60 majority.

  36. “Note how SKY News, The Sun, The Mail haven’t even mentioned a poll in the last 3 months. If you don’t read broadsheets your oblivious to the recent changes,”

    I do wish people would stop saying the Mail is a pro-Tory paper – it palpably is not. If anything, it is against politics in general at the moment. It is also the newspaper that said Brown had the “mantle of greatness”.

    The mail believes in strong conservatism – it is certainly not a Tory cheerleader.

    Has Harriet Harman heard about these hard working families of urban fox’s eating fast food with no regard for their cholesterol
    and blood pressure?
    On the other hand, at least if the vixen is not aways preparing
    food she can join vixens liberation movements and spend time celebrating diversity.

  38. Here’s the problems with your analysis…

    It’s unwise to discredit ‘Nasty Tory’ effect. The conservatives have made lots of little blunders, faux paus and mis-steps. And yes, none of which alone would be ‘game changing events’… But add them up, and it starts to weigh down on them.

    Let’s say you have a flat. It’s an okay flat. Then a light bulb goes out. No big deal, you can fix that. The front door’s letter box jammed open again, better get the WD-40. The local cats started using the back yard as a toilet, you’ll need to do something there. The bedroom window’s developed a draft… And you suddenly realise that when you add up all those little things your flat is *not* okay!

  39. Why the polls are narrowing, simple really. As I have said on many occasions Cameron has never actually managed to ‘seal the deal’ with the GB public. Many former and potential Labour voters, are not truly convinced by Cameron and the Tory party. And the more they hear of the Tory policies, the more they are pushed towards the Labour party. And then we have the “cast iron guarantee” that turned out to be anything but. Which portrayed Cameron as as much of a dissembler as Blair was, not a very attractive trait. I myself, am expecting to see further narrowing in the months to come.

  40. @JAY BLANC
    In defence of Anthonys analysis I must ask you what these Tory mistakes are in the eyes of the ordinary voter? The men and women on the Clapham omnibus are not as sad as you are. They do not consider Cameron has made a ground shaking foul up by questioning the behind the scenes issues in Muslim schools. They are not trendy liberals just waiting to find some reason to compare Cameron with Adolf Hitler and Ken Clark with Goering. You know it makes sense, just look at the Guardians circulation.

  41. I have a feeling the repetition line that they steadied the ship and the Tories stand for cuts has had some impact.
    I don’t agree with what they are saying – I think they were negligent allowing this lop sided situation with the economy to develop,
    but it’s an obvious argument for them to make if they are to have any hope of something turning up out of the blue.

  42. @CLAD
    Are you suggesting Brown has “sealed the deal”. He has never won an election to be in his position. Furthermore, Cameron had the European rug pulled from under him, Blair and Brown lied.
    If you cannot see a difference here, vote Labour, you deserve each other.

  43. A ten percent lead is pretty good – and if it happened in a general election would be even better.

    The ‘others’ are the main reason for Tories not being in the low 40’s.

    And once again to those saying Cameron broke his promise on Lisbon – he did not. read the quote.

    Its Labour and LibDems who broke their promise and its they who will benefit from flirting with UKIP – which is essentially an English Nationalist Party for Loony Tunes led by someone who fiddled his parliamentary expenses to a disgusting degree.

  44. Just to add that PH are reporting that Cameron’s net approval rating has dropped from +36 in mid September to +21 at the end of November. Which adds weight to my argument.

  45. Trevosden – I agree that the main reason for the cons not being in the low 40s is the others score.
    16% will not happen at the GE, perhaps 10 still up from last time.
    Do you think, though, that only the cons will get others back as reported in the You Gov Poll UKIP are only on 4%.
    The split maybe Con 3, Lab 2 and LD 1 for example giving an extra 1% lead only.

  46. @king harold

    These days, the ‘Common Man and Woman on the Clapham omnibus’ gets home, and checks Google News for what’s been happening, and reads the headlines from *all* the newspapers there.

    I think your understanding of the ‘Common Man and Woman’ is as outdated as a reference to the ‘Clapham Omnibus’. Particularly since SW12 filled up with affluent urban professionals.

    There’s a reason why “Have I Got News For You” moved to BBC1…

  47. It’s interesting how many people (Anthony excluded, of course) are buying the idea that governments don’t win elections, oppositions lose them.

    Re: cuts, this was a big part of the Tory agenda at the conference and didn’t do them any harm,

    Re: trends, to think that present trends will certainly continue is one of the most horrific (and common) fallacies in the social sciences. After all, if present trends continue, one half of the world will freeze to death and the other half will burn, because the sun is shining on one half. It was George Orwell, in his essay on James Burham, who pointed out that the best distinguishing mark of a power-worshipper. We are currentely headed towards a hung parliament; we might yet end up with a substantial Labour or Tory majority. 6 months is an epoch in politics.

  48. @Bill
    Worse is I think that assumption is being made by The Conservative Party themselves.

    And that can be very self destructive. They’ve invested so much into making the financial situation look dire and critical and imperilled by Labour, and they risk actually making Labour look *good* instead if it’s not half as bad on election day.

    Look at the 2004 US election… The Democrats concentrated on making the Bush presidency look like the worst thing that had happened to the country, and Bush managed to make it ‘not look that bad’ just before the election.

  49. @king harold

    Oh, and I’ve just read something in the Mirror, hardly a ‘Stuffy left wing broadsheet’… http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2009/12/camerons-bad-for-your-elf.html

    Are you really sure that the ‘Man on the Clapham Omnibus’ isn’t interested in Cameron’s gaffs?

  50. Bill,
    Just to clarify where I think the apparent difference of opinion may lie.
    I agree that Governents lose elections, there has to be a desire in the country to kick them out as happened in 79 and 97.
    My point is, though, that the opposition has to be credible enough to take advantage and in ’92 (rightly or wrongly) Kinnock’s labour Party did not sufficiently reassure waverers.
    I believe (perhaps more than Anthony but hey who knows) that the Conservative performance at their conference and since has been such as to push a few waverers away back to the LD’s and Labour.
    The other Labour improvement is probably returnees from don’t know, won’t vote and more likely to vote for the polsters that use this as one of their weightings.
    I think the recoverable loss to UKIP is over estimated by some but it also demonstrates that oppositions can lose votes and, therefore Elections.
    As above I still expect a Con Victory.

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